On Wednesday 6 July, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) will publish a special report on the EU's community-led LEADER local development approach.
ABOUT THE TOPIC
LEADER is the EU's participatory, bottom-up method for rural development policy, later extended to policies covering coastal and urban areas. It seeks to facilitate local engagement and empowerment by developing and delivering strategy and allocating resources on a local level to the greatest possible extent, taking advantage of the expertise and experience of local communities to define their development needs. Assigning these tasks to local action groups entails additional costs and risks. But the expectation behind the LEADER approach is that it will bring added value compared with the traditional top-down management of EU funds.
In the 2014-2020 period, LEADER was a mandatory part of all rural development programmes. Member States were required to spend at least 5 % of their rural development funding on programmes which used the LEADER approach.
ABOUT THE AUDIT
The audit examines whether the LEADER approach delivered benefits that justified its additional costs and risks in comparison with mainstream top-down EU spending programmes. To assess this, the EU auditors investigated whether LEADER had facilitated local engagement and led to projects delivering demonstrable benefits in terms of local governance, improved social capital and enhanced results. The audit covers the 2014-2020 period. The auditors analysed examples from ten Member States: the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Austria, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden.
This audit also follows up on a previous ECA audit: the auditors assess whether, more than a decade later, the European Commission has addressed previously identified weaknesses in LEADER. Through this report, the ECA aims to provide insights and timely recommendations for the ongoing evaluation of the LEADER approach.
For interviews, statements and media queries, please contact the ECA press office at
The report and press release will be published on the ECA website
eca.europa.eu at 5.00 p.m. CET on Wednesday 6 July.
The ECA member responsible for this report is Eva Lindström.
The ECA's special reports set out the results of its audits of EU policies and programmes or management topics related to specific budgetary areas. The ECA selects and designs its audit tasks to be of maximum impact by considering the risks to performance or compliance, the level of income or spending involved, forthcoming developments and political and public interest.